Japan to amend first-quarter GDP calculation method to better reflect coronavirus impact

FILE PHOTO: A man waits to cross a street in front of Shinjuku station, a normally crowded street during the weekend, after the government expanded a state of emergency to include the entire country last week following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan, April 19, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s government said on Tuesday it will change the way it compiles preliminary gross domestic product (GDP) data for the January to March period to better reflect the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Japan expanded a state of emergency to the whole nation earlier this month that asks people to stay home and businesses to close or scale down temporarily, further damaging an economy already on the brink of recession.

The Cabinet Office said it usually uses data from January and February to estimate some figures for March but it will take available data from industries for the month in calculating GDP for the first quarter.

For example, it will use sales figures on beer and beverages from major companies and data from a restaurant association for the month.

The Cabinet Office said it will also reflect the economic stimulus package when it calculates the first quarter GDP.

The government last week boosted its new economic stimulus package to a record $1.1 trillion to expand cash payouts to its citizens, as the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak threatens to push the economy deeper toward recession.

It will release January to March GDP data on May 18.

Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Christopher Cushing